In August of this year, a group of my friends went to a show in Philadelphia that I unfortunately was too young to go to. It featured three bands special to all of us: Wussy, Dan Ex Machina and Low Cut Connie. From what I’ve heard, the first two bands gave solid performances, as they usually do, but the minute that Low Cut Connie hit the stage, it was all about them. At a certain point in their set, somebody in the audience took their shirt off. Another person followed and eventually it was an audience of sweaty, shirtless, dancing lunatics.
My biggest regret of the summer was not being 21.
Fronted by piano player and singer Adam Weiner, Low Cut Connie is a roots band with an interest in ’50s and ’60s rock ‘n’ roll. But with so many bands influenced by that era in music, what makes Low Cut Connie stand out is their understanding of what makes rock ‘n’ roll so wonderful. Instead of trying to rewrite “Long Tall Sally,” as if the words are really what was so special about it, Weiner gives his songs titles like “Big Thighs, NJ” and “Shit, Shower & Shave,” and then tries his hardest to out-rock Little Richard. Oftentimes, he succeeds.
As a live band, Low Cut Connie is among today’s best. Weiner throws his microphone around, plays the piano with his feet and jumps into the audience, as if energy is a poison he needs to get out of his body. Many musicians say their goal in life is to give audiences a satisfying performance, but Adam Weiner takes that goal to heart.
As a recording band, they are excellent as well. Their 2010 debut, “Get Out the Lotion,” was one of the most underappreciated albums in recent years and their new album, “Call Me Sylvia,” is even better. But the energy displayed in a live performance is hard to recreate on a record, so their recordings of course don’t live up to their live act. With that said, “Call Me Sylvia” is still very full of energy, and all the live energy lost is made up for in songwriting.
No song on “Call Me Sylvia” tops “Shit, Shower & Shave,” the Low Cut Connie song most deserving of becoming a standard, but the album as a whole is superior to their debut. It’s longer and the band seems more sure of themselves and, best of all, guitarist/drummer/singer Dan Finnemore gives Weiner a run for his money.
Finnemore wrote some really memorable songs on “Get Out the Lotion,” but he seemed like something of a second-in-command. On “Call Me Sylvia,” his songwriting, playing and singing have all improved, and he offsets Weiner’s intensity with a collection of some of the most inspired love songs of the year.
On “Brand New Cadillac,” he sings, “Well I don’t need to know where you are heading out tonight, and I don’t need to know if you are looking out of sight, ‘cause all that information does, it makes me want to call you again.” The best song on the album even belongs to Finnemore, the two-minute “Share Your Name,” which deserves to be much longer.
Once again, Weiner gets the most time, however. Ten of the fifteen songs on the album belong to him and, other than “Cleveland,” he nails all of them. The first song released from the album, “Scoliosis in Secaucus,” is a highlight (along with having an awesome music video). And “Pity Party” shows him as a sadsack who requests, “C’mon baby, throw a pity party for me.” His best performance on the album is on “Desperation,” “Go out with me honey, just to feel so young.”
“Call Me Sylvia” is an ideal sophomore album. It builds on what the band does well while minimizing their faults. Low Cut Connie is a band begging to be noticed and, thanks to terrific songs with the ability to make people take their shirts off and Rolling Stone naming them a “Band to Watch,” they are definitely on their way.
Key Tracks: “Share Your Name,” “Desperation,” “Brand New Cadillac,” “Scoliosis in Secaucus” and “Don’t Cry Baby Blue.”